Special Feature by Jeff and Claire Copeland of Simple Treasures Photography
1. Allow time to get your marriage license. A Florida marriage license can be obtained at any courthouse in the state of Florida for a fee of $93.50, and is good anywhere in the state. To get a license, both bride and groom must appear at the courthouse during normal business hours on a weekday. If neither the bride nor the groom is a Florida resident, the license is valid the day it is issued (there is a three-day wait for Florida residents) and is good for 60 days.
2. Keep an eye on the weather. Contrary to popular belief, it can get quite chilly in Florida during the winter months. (Temperatures in the 40s and 50s during the day are not unheard of - brrrr!) And hurricanes are always a possible threat to your wedding plans during the summer. The most active part of the Atlantic hurricane season is Mid-September through the end of October. The best times of year for Florida wedding weather are March through May and November through December!
3. Choose the right time of day. Early morning or about one hour before sunset will give you the best lighting for a beach wedding. You have more flexibility if you're in a shaded area or indoors.
4. On that note, if you want sunset photos, you’d better plan on a Gulf Coast wedding from Tampa Bay to Naples. The sun sets in the West, after all!
5. Choose the right officiant. Florida only allows ordained clergy and Florida notaries to solemnize marriage. Sorry, but Cousin Joe may not be able to perform your ceremony!
6. Choose the right photographer. If you're having a beach wedding, don't hire a studio photographer who isn't used to shooting in the elements (the sand and seagulls freak them out!), and vice versa.
7. Choose the right area for your interests. Florida has it all, from horseback riding and hunting to upscale glitz and glamour. The major metropolitan areas (clockwise from top left) are Pensacola, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Daytona, Orlando, Miami, Key West, Naples, Fort Myers, and Tampa Bay. In between, you're sure to find something for everyone!
8. Plan for time and distance if you're road tripping. Florida is a big state. It takes about 14 hours to drive from one end (Pensacola) to the other (Key West).
9. Be sure to at least check with your hotel if you are looking for a service provider or venue. Most Florida beachfront hotels are super-savvy when it comes to weddings of all shapes and sizes.
10. The beaches are different on each coast. Those sugar-white sand photos you've seen? Gulf Coast from Pensacola to Naples. The East Coast from Jacksonville south has the light brown sand mixed with shells more typical of other Atlantic beaches. Miami and The Keys fall somewhere in between.